LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — When the Aces try to even their best-of-five WNBA semifinal series Wednesday night against the Seattle Storm, they’ll be facing a confident opponent.
The fourth-seeded Storm stole the opener of the series Sunday behind Jewell Loyd’s 26 points and dominant inside performances from Breanna Stewart and Tina Charles.
A team effort is how Loyd described the Game 1 triumph before an announced crowd of 9,944 at Michelob Ultra Arena.
“It helps when you have really good teammates … you believe in them, they believe in you,” said Loyd, who scored the game’s final six points . “That’s the biggest thing for us, is that each of us have to stay confident in what we do and what we can bring to the team. That’s been the key for us.”
The Aces will need to get better results from A’ja Wilson, who on Tuesday was named the WNBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, and more accurate shooting.
Wilson had eight points on 3-for-12 shooting, including 0-for-2 from 3-point range. She had her hands full inside, with the Stewart scoring 24 points and Charles adding 13 points and a franchise playoff-record 18 rebounds.
The Aces shot a dismal 41.8% (28-for-68), including 26.1% (6-for-23) from 3-point range. The Aces shared the WNBA lead in 3-point percentage during the regular season at 36.1. Of course, the team they shared that percentage with was Seattle.
Aces coach Becky Hammon thinks her team was uncharacteristically jittery.
“I thought we played tight, especially in the first quarter,” Hammon said. “We played like the world was on our shoulders.”
Stewart is expecting a more polished effort from the Aces in Game 2. Tipoff is 7 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN2.
“We knew that this was going to be tough,” Stewart said. “These games against Vegas have been tough all regular season and previous seasons, and we have a lot of respect for their players and what they do.
“We knew that coming here to their home court, we wanted to obviously try to steal one, we wanted to get one and get our momentum going in the right direction.”